Summary: THE PASSAGE BEFORE US TODAY IS ONE OF GROWTH FOR THE EARLY CHURCH. IN FACT, ONE MIGHT SAY THAT THIS IS A PICTURE OF THE CHURCH LEAVING THE NEST. WITH THIS PASSAGE WE SEE THE CULMINATION OF GOD’S PLAN FOR THE GROWTH AND DIRECTION OF THE CHURCH. PETER IS
TWO VISIONS; ONE PURPOSE
INTRODUCTION: THE PASSAGE BEFORE US TODAY IS ONE OF GROWTH FOR THE EARLY CHURCH. IN FACT, ONE MIGHT SAY THAT THIS IS A PICTURE OF THE CHURCH LEAVING THE NEST. WITH THIS PASSAGE WE SEE THE CULMINATION OF GOD’S PLAN FOR THE GROWTH AND DIRECTION OF THE CHURCH. PETER IS FOUNDATIONAL IN THIS “LAST LEG”; THE GOSPEL TO THE GENTILES. SO, IN OUR TIME TOGETHER THIS MORNING LET US LOOK AT THE GOSPEL COMING TO THE GENTILES.
I. GOD AT WORK IN A DIFFERENT WAY
WHEN WE SPEAK ABOUT BARRIERS, WE ALL NEED TO ACCEPT AND EMBRACE THAT THERE ARE BARRIERS WE SEE BETWEEN PEOPLE; SOCIAL, ECONOMIC, GENDER, RACE, ETC.
FOR THE FOLLOWER OF JESUS, THOSE SAME BARRIERS EXIST, AND BECAUSE WE ARE A REDEEMED PEOPLE, YET STILL WITH OUR SIN NATURE, THESE BARRIERS ARE REAL, AND MUST BE DEALT WITH IF WE ARE EVER TO BE EFFECTIVE IN OUR TESTIMONY FOR CHRIST.
JUST AS LEVEES STOP THE FLOODS FROM HEAVY RAINS, OUR PRECONCEIVED BARRIERS STOP THE FLOW OF THE GOSPEL FROM US TO OTHERS!
a. BREAKING DOWN THE BARRIERS OF RACE
i. THIS IS THE FIRST BARRIER WE SEE BROKEN DOWN
ii. THERE HAS ALWAYS BEEN A HATRED BETWEEN THE JEW AND THE GENTILE
Acts 10:28 He said to them: "You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with a Gentile or visit him. But God has shown me that I should not call any man impure or unclean.
iii. THIS HATRED, UNLESS DEALT WITH, WOULD PREVENT THE GOSPEL FROM REACHING MATURITY.
1. UP UNTIL THIS TIME THE ONLY WAY TO COME INTO A RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD WAS THROUGH FIRST BECOMING A JEW.
b. BREAKING DOWN THE BARRIERS OF SOCIETY
i. THIS IS NOT THE FIRST TIME A PERSON OF MILITARY IS BEING REFERENCED IN THE PLANS AND ACTIVITY OF GOD.
Matthew 8:5-9 When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help.
6 "Lord," he said, "my servant lies at home paralyzed and in terrible suffering." 7 Jesus said to him, "I will go and heal him." 8 The centurion replied, "Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. 9 For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, 'Go,' and he goes; and that one, 'Come,' and he comes. I say to my servant, 'Do this,' and he does it."
ii. CHRIST NEVER REBUKES A MILITARY MAN FOR BEING IN THE MILITARY
iii. THE WAS A DEEP HATRED FOR THE MILITARY IN THE JEWISH MINDSET. THE JEWS HATED THE OCCUPATION OF ROME IN THEIR LAND
c. BREAKING DOWN THE BARRIERS OF PRIVILEGE
i. WHAT A BEAUTIFUL ILLUSTRATION HERE IN THE HOUSEHOLD OF CORNELIUS
1. IN SENDING SERVANTS TO PETER AND A DEVOUT SOLDIER
2. IN THE PREPARATION OF CORNELIUS TO RECEIVE PETER AND WHAT PETER HAD TO SAY
Acts 10:24 The following day he arrived in Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends.
a. CORNELIUS INVOLVED HIS WHOLE FAMILY, HOUSEHOLD, AND SUBORDINATES IN HIS SEARCH FOR SPIRITUAL TRUTH.
3. THE TESTIMONY OF CORNELIUS HAD AN IMPACT ON THOSE AROUND HIM!
I WOULD LIKE TO SUBMIT TO YOU THAT GOD HAD CHOSEN PETER TO BE THE PERSON TO BREAK DOWN THOSE BARRIERS AS WE WILL SEE LATER, AFTER WE LOOK AT, …
II. GOD AT WORK IN THE LIFE OF CORNELIUS TO RECEIVE THE GOSPEL
a. GOD HAD ALREADY BROUGHT CORNELIUS A LONG WAY IN HIS SEARCH FOR TRUTH AND A RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD
i. CORNELIUS WAS DEVOUT
2. PIETY WITH NO ENLIGHTENMENT
3. WORSHIP IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION
4. HAVING AN AWE FOR GOD
IT IS POSSIBLE TO BE GOING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION BUT STILL BE LOST
WHILE AT MY FIRST CHURCH, I WAS GIVEN DIRECTION TO THE HOUSE OF A MEMBER THAT INVOLVED MAKING A TURN AT “IKE’S TEPEE”. SO, BEING A LITERALIST AT TIMES, I LOOKED FOR A TEPEE. NEVER FOUND IT. EVENTUALLY I HAD TO ASK FOR DIRECTIONS, AND MADE IT TO THE MEMBERS HOUSE. LATER, I ASKED ANOTHER PERSON IN THE CHURCH ABOUT WHERE I COULD HAVE GONE WRONG IN THAT I HAD NEVER SEEN THE TEPEE. THEY TOLD ME THAT “IKE’S TEPEE” WAS ACTUALLY AN A-FRAMED HOUSE. AHA, SO IT JUST KIND OF LOOKED LIKE A TEPEE. I WAS BEING TOO LITERAL! AS I HAD THE OPPORTUNITY, I WENT BACK OUT AND LOOKED FOR “IKE’S TEPEE”, NOW BETTER INFORMED AS TO WHAT IT LOOKED LIKE. WELL, YOU GUESSED IT, DIDN’T FIND IT THEN EITHER! SO, ONCE AGAIN, I ASKED ANOTHER PERSON IN THE CHURCH. I WENT THROUGH THE WHOLE STORY ABOUT LOOKING FOR A REAL TEPEE AND THEN LOOKING FOR AN A-FRAMED HOUSE, AND NOT FINDING EITHER. THE PERSON I WAS SPEAKING TO LAUGHED OUT LOUD AND SAID SOMETHING LIKE THIS, “PASTOR, THERE WAS A FELLOW NAMED IKE WHO HAD AN A-FRAMED HOUSE. HE DIED, AND HIS FAMILY EVENTUALLY KNOCKED THE A-FRAME DOWN. THERE IS NO “IKE’S TEPEE” ANYMORE. THEY JUST CALL THE PLOT OF GROUND “IKE’S TEPEE” BECAUSE THAT WHERE IT WAS!